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Vicky Baker tells you how to find travel companions online

Why stop at booking flights and hotels online? These days, you can find travel companions too

‘Maddy and I are going to Barcelona for a city break, you might fancy joining us.” Next to the message was a thumbnail picture of a woman in her early 40s. Her name was Teresa, she was a civil servant living in Hammersmith, west London, and she described herself as “a bubbly daredevil with a sharp sense of humour”. This was all I knew, and she knew as little about me. Yet she was inviting me on holiday.

What we had in common was membership of the London branch of citysocialising.com, a fast-expanding social networking site that introduces people online but enables their friendship to develop in the real world through various gatherings, arranged by the site or members themselves. With 22,000 users across nine UK cities, they’ve already set their sights on expanding into Europe.

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Twenty hotel discoveries

The 2009 edition of the Good Hotel Guide has just been published, so we asked its editor, Desmond Balmer, to pick his favourites across Britain and Ireland from this year’s new entries

The most rewarding aspect of editing a hotel guide is unearthing new discoveries to share with friends and readers. These newcomers bring fresh energy to a guide while offering new treats for even the most jaded palate.

Every year we drop between 80-100 hotels from the Good Hotel Guide as owners sell out, retire, or perhaps just lose their way. The compensation for the loss of old favourites is the inclusion of an equal number of new finds. And because we regard the presence of a hands-on owner as a key ingredient, there is a story to tell at each of these discoveries.

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